A WOLF IN THE NIGHT
DISCLAIMER: Don't own the characters from CSI, just use them briefly for fun.
A/N: A quick one shot and my first attempt at writing a CSI: Las Vegas story. Hope you like it. Sort of a Halloween thing too.
"Aw man, how did I get so lucky...oh yeah, because its my turn for Halloween duty this year," Nick Stokes of the Las Vegas Crime Lab, groused to himself.
And, of course, he and Grissom caught the supposed homicide way out here in the desert at some remote cabin on a dirt road off the highway.
Because it was Halloween, the Las Vegas Police Department was stretched thin so only two cops were out here helping them. David, their coroner for the night, hadn't yet arrived as Nick pulled in and parked next to a police jeep, its lights shining on the scene.
This far out, the bright city lights of the Vegas Strip didn't do more than look like a smudge of light in the distance, so it was really dark, though the presence of a full moon did manage to illuminate the landscape somewhat. The cabin only had a few lights on inside and he could see flashlights moving at rear of the place.
'Must be Grissom...' he thought as he collected his kit from the rear of his SUV then trudged up the dirt path to the cabin porch. A cop standing at the end of the porch nodded at him.
"The scene is in the kitchen...it's a real mess in there."
Nick nodded his thanks and headed on in the open door. The cabin smelled of recently cooked chicken, pine cleaner, and lemon...but no death smell. Odd. He ventured inside and saw the interior had been trashed. A fight had happened here as he could see smears of blood on the wall, furniture and floor.
He studied the room carefully before moving to check the other rooms. Turning left, he made his way down a small hall and peeked into the bathroom...clean and undisturbed...then turned and went into the small bedroom...same thing here...a made bed, tidy dresser...nothing disturbed. So the action apparently took place out front. He went back down the hall and walked toward the kitchen doorway.
As he peered in, he saw more of the fight continued on in here with the kitchen table overturned, food scattered everywhere, and a blood trail that led out the open back door which explained why Grissom was out there.
So, okay, he'd get started processing the scene in the living room then move to the rest of the house, leaving the kitchen to Grissom. He set his kit down on the floor and set to work.
Dr. Gil Grissom, supervisor of the night shift, had arrived from another scene. It was a busy night for all of them. What he'd been told was someone at this address had called 911, screaming for help and when the person dropped the phone, the operator heard loud sounds of a fight then growls from some kind of animal, screams of the victim, the bang of a door, then the screams fading away as if the victim was being dragged off.
With that to go on, he arrived at the scene just behind the police. They had given the scene a preliminary search to see if they could find the victim and perpetrator but only found the traces of a fight, blood trail, and nothing else.
They did a quick search with flashlights around the perimeter but spotted no one, so waited for the CSI team and coroner to arrive.
Grissom had carefully gone over the scene, picking up an unwelcome scent. Frowning, he decided to search outside. Ordering one officer to wait for Stokes at the front of the house, he took the other officer with him and went through the back door to search the back yard more thoroughly.
He already knew what they were looking for but didn't share that knowledge with the officer as the two of them followed the blood trail for about a block's distance, before the trail vanished. Deciding to split up, Grissom took the direction he knew the killer had gone and sent the officer off on a tangent away from the possible threat.
While the officer thought he was looking for a human perpetrator, the victim and possibly a dog, Grissom was looking for something far deadlier.
It was hard for him to contain a growl of anger. Someone dared to intrude on his territory and that someone was going to pay.
He'd come to Las Vegas to find peace and to finally be alone from his own kind. Tired of the infighting and not willing to wait until he was deposed as a leader, he found someone else that could do the job, told them to not follow him on pain of death, and disappeared.
He never looked back and never regretted his decision. Since losing his mate, he had no desire to be surrounded by those that had one nor find another so leaving had been the best thing for him.
His job was rewarding, if a bit grisly, and the surrounding area was excellent for running and hunting. He cultivated a calm, even tempered demeanor, which wasn't faked, in his work place and was at peace with himself after so many decades of strife and conflict.
Only something like this could truly make him angry. He'd made it clear to anyone who drifted through, that this was his territory and none of them were allowed to stay... if you were caught trespassing, you were warned once to leave...no one got a second warning. Passing through was okay, but if you tried to stay or, as in this case, killed on his turf...you were dead. This perp had done both. He needed to hunt him down, find the body, and put an end to the threat.
Sniffing the night air, he found the scent trail and followed it to the body dump. There was no sign of the killer, but he wasn't fooled. Whoever it was, still hung about as his scent still lingered strongly.
He couldn't go after the killer just yet, he had a scene to process and innocents that had to leave the area first. He called to the cop who trotted over to him quickly.
"Direct the coroner out here, we found the body of our vic. You find any trace of anyone else?" He asked for forms sake.
"No sir, not a sign. Odd that the trail ended so abruptly...no tire tracks or footprints to tell how the guy got here in the first place. Maybe the light of day will allow us to see what we can't tonight," the officer commented, staring down at the body and grimacing. "No sign of any dog prints either."
"Yeah, you're right. A morning search is definitely indicated. I doubt our perp is around now so I'll take care of the body. Go back to the cabin and when the coroner gets here, lead him out here, please."
The cop nodded then trotted off to join his partner. While waiting for David to arrive, Grissom studied the body carefully, taking photographs from all angles but not touching the victim yet.
The deceased had been viciously beaten before receiving severe claw marks all over his body and face including one particularly deep slash across the neck where it appeared he might have bled out. At the sight of that, he snarled, baring his teeth, eyes flashing an odd amber color as fury shook him for one long moment.
An intruder dared to kill a human while in animal form, the worst offense one of his kind could do. Shaking off his anger, he forcibly calmed himself and got on with his work. Time enough, later, to allow his anger free rein when he went hunting for the killer.
"What you got Grissom," David asked as he rolled up with a gurney, the young cop helping him move it across the uneven ground.
"Young male... in his early thirties, I'd guess...been clawed by an animal of some kind..."
"Hmm..." David grimaced at the mess and frowned. "I thought Nick said it was a fight? How did an animal get involved? Pet...maybe?"
"Don't know. All the clues tell us is this poor guy was beaten then dragged from his home, that's if he's the resident that made the call...for all we know he could have been the attacker."
David shrugged. "True but it doesn't explain all the claw marks..." he muttered more to himself than Gil as he began his examination of the corpse. He gently searched the body, took out a device to check the body's temp and said, "he's been dead less than an hour...bled out most likely from this neck lac...will know for certain during the autopsy." He continued to search the body and found nothing of interest in the torn clothing. "No ID...pockets are empty...are you finished with the body?"
"Yes. You can take it away."
The young coroner nodded and gestured for the cop to give him a hand as he quickly and efficiently placed the body in a body bag, hefted it onto the gurney and rolled it away.
Grissom took more pictures of the spot where the body had lain, looked off over the landscape a moment before heading inside to help Nick finish up.
Since there seemed to be no sign of the perpetrator and the cops were needed elsewhere, they left the two CSI's alone to finish their work. Silence fell when all the others left. Nick, knowing Grissom preferred to work in silence, went about his business quietly and efficiently.
He had finished the living room andwent to search the rest of the cabin for clues to who actually owned or lived in it. He pulled open drawers in the dresser, pawed around, checking each one before going to check out the closet. He was shining his flashlight above the clothes to see if there was any kind of trap door or anything else stored on the shelf when the hairs on the back of his neck rose.
He froze, listening tensely. The only ones that were supposed to be here were him and Grissom but somehow he sensed the one just behind him wasn't his boss. Before he could draw his weapon or even turn around, he heard a low, deep growl.
'Uh oh...a dog..?' Was his immediate thought. They hadn't found traces of a pet but that meant nothing as the animal could have come from anywhere.
Taking a shaky breath, he very slowly turned his head. His eyes widened in shock. No dog was this...a huge gray, brown and black wolf stood there staring at him, mouth opened in a silent snarl.
Nick's heart galloped. He dared not call for Grissom for fear of startling the animal into attacking but if he didn't say anything, Gil could walk into this threat and be torn apart instead.
As if called by Nick's thought, Grissom suddenly appeared behind the wolf in the doorway of the bedroom. His eyes fell on the wolf and he froze but what he did next would change Nick's world view forever.
Grissom snarled, making a deep chuffing cough in his throat that just didn't sound right coming from a human throat.
The wolf instantly whirled around and snarled at this new intruder but instead of attacking immediately, it seemed to have smelled or sensed something about the man that made it freeze in place.
"You dare to kill in my territory?" Grissom's voice, rough and odd sounding, growled at the wolf.
To Nick's shock, the wolf whined as if it clearly understood what Grissom had said. It abased itself before the man by lowering its body into a crouch, laying its ears flat to its head, and curling its tail between its legs. If he remembered his wolf lore, the wolf was saying by its body language that it considered Grissom to be dominant over it.
'What the hell is going on?' Nick wondered, bewildered.
The wolf whined and crept closer to Grissom. In that same odd, cold voice, his boss said,"...no second chances nor pleas...you killed on my turf...you die!"
A thrill of fear and stunned disbelief went through Nick then things got even weirder as he noticed Grissom's eyes were glowing an eerie amber color and the man was stalking closer to the wolf.
The wolf jerked upright and backed away while continuing to stare into Grissom's odd eyes. It appeared to be utterly shocked by what the man had said then Nick saw what looked like resignation pass through the wolf's eyes before it gave a loud mournful howl and charged his boss with barely any warning. Nick pulled his gun but couldn't shoot because Grissom was suddenly in the way, however, it was no longer a human that was fighting the wolf.
Nick just knew he wasn't going to be able to tell anyone about this because no one would believe him. He had just witnessed Grissom morphing into a huge white and black wolf before his horrified eyes, shredded clothing hanging off the animal's body.
The two animals rolled on the floor, snapping at each other viciously, trapping Nick in the closet. He kept his gun pointed, hoping to hit the attacking wolf, though his mind was still having trouble accepting this nightmare battle that raged in front of him.
Grissom fought with all the skills of an alpha wolf while the killer did its best to stay alive long enough to try and escape. It utilized a variety of dirty tricks, like trying to snap at a hind leg to bite the tendons or claw the eyes of his opponent, but Grissom was fast and quick, delivering several serious bites to the legs of the other wolf and finally grabbing the ruff and biting down.
Squealing, the killer squirmed and shook itself to get the larger wolf off him. In desperation, it finally succeeded by throwing itself to one side forcing Grissom to let go, then kicked the alpha wolf in the face before breaking off the fight and leaping through the bedroom window, shattering the glass and tearing the screen away as it made its escape.
Grissom wasn't about to let his prey escape him so leaped through the same window and tore after the other wolf, leaving the last of his clothing behind. Nick hurried to the window to see where they were going. Under the eerie light of the moon, he watched as Grissom caught the other wolf less than twenty feet from the cabin and brought it down to its knees. This time the older wolf got a better purchase on the others neck and ripped its throat out. He let go and the killer's body dropped limply to the ground.
Triumphant, the older wolf howled to the sky and was answered by the sounds of coyotes in the distance.
Nick's mouth was dry as he watched his boss trot back to the cabin. 'Would he kill me now for seeing him like this?' He wondered in fear. He knew he couldn't run fast enough to get to his vehicle and escape so he turned toward the door, holding his gun out and waited in terror.
The big wolf trotted in, his feet making no sound as he came to the doorway and halted, staring at Nick, his tongue hanging out and panting.
The young CSI shuddered inside at the sight of blood around the wolf's muzzle.
They stared at each other for several seconds while Nick held the gun out, finger on the trigger. Then suddenly, Grissom's form quickly morphed back into his human self, completely naked, looking like nothing whatever had happened just moments ago except for being nude. He quietly eyed his protege intently.
"You...you going to take me out as well?" Nick finally asked, lowering his pistol, keeping his eyes on the man's face. He wasn't willing to shoot the human as he had been the wolf.
"No, of course not. You've done nothing wrong except for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You do understand you can't say anything about this, right?"
"Are you kidding? Who the hell would believe me? I saw it and I still have problems with wrapping my head around werewolves existing."
Grissom grimaced in distaste. "Not werewolves, Nick...shapeshifters. I'm not one of those idiot Hollywood creatures. Shapeshifters are born this way and we've existed since the dawn of man...right along side them as a matter of fact."
"Wha...how is that possible?"
"How is it not? Where do you think all those stories about us came from in the first place? There have been all manner of shapeshifters existing for centuries. Many have since gone extinct, like dragons and some birds but wolves, big cats, and bears are still around."
Nick's eyes grew round as Grissom described a world he could never have conceived of. He frowned a moment as he processed all this incredible data. As he was thinking, he put his gun away then asked the first question he could think of at the moment.
"I thought wolves always traveled in packs, where's yours?"
"I chose to live without one. I was the alpha of a pack a couple of decades ago but grew tired of the fighting over dominance and when I lost my mate, I just lost any desire to be a part of a pack any longer. I moved here, made this territory my own and I'm happy."
Nick could only shake his head. "That's a hell of a secret, boss. But it must come in handy at times, like now. I take it that was a shapeshifter you killed out there? Was he the one that killed our vic?"
"Yes. He was a young rogue, no pack, I'm guessing. We'll still have to process the homicide and try to determine why he and the vic fought and over what, if we can."
"It would have been easier to have just asked the guy, Grissom, before you...uh...took him out."
Grissom shook his head. "Too dangerous. If he had no qualms over killing a human when he knew he could be killed by one of us for doing it, then he wouldn't care if he revealed himself either. So he had to be removed."
"Well, without him, it's going to be really difficult to solve this case. So, how do we go about disposing of your...uh...trespasser...explain how this window was broken...and where the claw marks came from on the vic?"
Grissom sighed. Nick's questions were valid ones. "Everyone will do their job and discover as much as they can then I will take over from there. It helps that this has been an extremely busy night...not hard to misplace data or a case..." he let his voice trial off suggestively.
"Ahh, I get it and all I have to do is my part of the job but not offer anything else about it and it will simply disappear...another unsolved cold case."
"Exactly. Now, I need to get some clothes on and we need to finish up here and as for the body...I'll handle that myself."
Nick shook his head and smiled wanly, still trying to get a handle on all this strangeness. "You're the boss and I suppose you just happen to keep a set of duds in your vehicle for just such ... uh ... emergencies?"
Grissom just smiled back smugly. "That I am and yes I do." As he turned away to go outside to his vehicle, Nick called after him.
"There's a lot of questions I want to ask...will you answer them?"
Grissom studied Nick a moment then smiled warmly, "sure, how about a home cooked pasta dinner for our discussion?"
"Sounds great. You tell me when and I'll even bring the salad." Nick sighed in relief, pleased his boss was willing to indulge him. Learning about these incredible creatures was going to be fascinating.
"I'll let you know." Grissom turned away and headed outside. It was going to be a very long night but he wasn't too unhappy about having a friend to talk to, he had been getting a little lonely of late.